Antibiotics in Action

How do antibiotics work?

Different antibiotics have different ways of fighting bacteria.

For example, they can work by:

  • Changing the cell wall structure of bacteria - The bacteria literally rupture due to the penetration of fluids through the cell wall.
  • Examples: penicillin (and its derivatives ampicillin and cloxacillin), cephalosporins (e.g., cefoxitin), vancomycin
  • Interfering with protein production - Proteins are needed to ensure the manufacture of new bacteria to replace old, dying bacteria. Some antibiotics interfere with the ability of bacteria to make proteins that are used to build important parts of the cell.
  • Examples: tetracycline, aminoglycosides (e.g., gentamicin, tobramycin), macrolides (e.g., erythromycin, azithromycin, clarithromycin)
  • Interfering with DNA synthesis - These antibiotics interfere with the production of new chromosomes, the cell's genetic information.
  • Examples: quinolones (ciprofloxacin)

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Antibiotics in Action | Antibiotic Resistance | Reducing the Problem of Antibiotic Resistance